Scale Models of Real Objects

One way of increasing a child’s knowledge of the world about us is to provide small scale models of buildings, vehicles and animals that he is not old enough or large enough to learn about in their real form. They are useful for imaginative play situations because this is how most children from toddler age onwards use them. There is a distinction to be made between toys which are actually scale models and those which simply represent the objects in simplified or even distorted form. This last category would include many baby toys such as soft furry animals, which are not particularly like any real animal, and vinyl toys like cars and ducks. These can be found in any material from cheap plastic to beautifully hand-carved wood. The imaginative shapes and varying textures appeal to the visual and tactile senses for what the object is rather than what it represents and they serve their purpose well if they are well made, attractive and safe. There comes a stage (rather than an age) when children know a little more and want, indeed ask for or make their preference otherwise known, more realistic toys. Odd cars and wagons may still be included in a traffic game for a while but eventually the children know this is not quite right. It takes more time to reach the next stage of being able to relate sizes. The two-year-old will jumble up Dinky cars, Matchbox cars, a Tonka toy if he has one, with plastic baby cars. The three-year-old rejects the baby cars but may try to tow a larger Tonka vehicle with a small Dinky crane lorry. The four-year-old is very knowledgeable, often looks avidly at catalogues and knows exactly what he needs to complete a set of matched vehicles.